Studio recording in stereo
December 4-7, 10-12, 27-29, 1979
January 2-4, April 15 & July 1, 1980
Conductor: Herbert von Karajan
Amfortas José van Dam
Titurel Victor von Halem
Gurnemanz Kurt Moll
Parsifal Peter Hofmann
Klingsor Siegmund Nimsgern
Kundry Dunja Vejzovic
Altsolo Hanna Schwarz
Gralsritter Claes Håkan Ahnsjö
Gralsritter Kurt Rydl
Knappe Marjon Lambriks
Knappe Anne Gjevang
Knappe Heiner Hopfner
Knappe Georg Tichy
Blume Barbara Hendricks
Blume Jannet Perry
Blume Doris Soffel
Blume Inga Nielsen
Blume Audrey Michael
Blume Rohangiz Yachmi
Berliner Philharmoniker
Chor der Deutschen Oper Berlin
Deutsche Grammophon, 413 347-2 4 CDs DDD
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Review by Graham Clark

Though the singing on Karajan's Parsifal is very fine, the prize must go to the conducting and orchestra playing. The Berliner Philharmoniker is its usual regal self, especially the woodwinds. On the CD, its playing comes out completely refined, except for the occasional uppity trombone. Karajan's conducting makes a fine icing on the cake. His speeds are generally fast, but very spiritual, so the result is rarely lightweight. He may not sound as "Christian" as the Knappertsbusch recordings, but a background free of stage noises is an additional advantage to this recording.

As for the singing, the best singer is Kurt Moll as Gurnemanz. He is the personal favorite of many Parsifal fans, and the basis of this is probably the sheer strength he gives to the role throughout the opera. José van Dam and Siegmund Nimsgern both bring much sympathy to their roles, though the latter may not be sinister enough. The Kundry here is a little wobbly, and Parsifal slightly rough of tone (neither match their Knappertsbusch counterparts). When you listen to the ending of Act Two, however, when Parsifal is about to swing the spear into the symbol of the cross, all vocal problems seem to vanish, and we hear pure music. This recording is one of the two greatest of the recent versions of the opera (in my opinion), the other being Jordan's.

This review is from the now closed Wagner on the Web and it is published without the author's consent. I haven't been able to get in touch with him. If the author reads this, please contact me as soon as possible. If you don't want it here, I'll take it of the site immediately.